Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Not Us, It's You

If there were honesty in rejections, we'd hear the above sentences much more frequently.  In truth, friends, I am reading this list over and over in preparation for an important pending rejection.  I want to believe that this is my big moment (in fact, according to my horoscope, Mars is entering my house of career honors, and Jupiter & Neptune will conjoin, not to meet again until 2022, which is a long time to wait for another publishing opportunity), but I must prepare myself for reality.  It's hard to get published no matter what the stars say.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We Regret to Tell you

This is probably an old rejection, judging by the greeting.  I don't think people use "Dear Sir" any more, do they?  Plus it is signed by Enormous, which is ironic since Anderson Press is so small and specialized.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When In Doubt Quote the Bible

Here's a variation on the theme: A rejection slip contest.  It was held in 1993-94, so it's too late to submit now.  Not sure what Lit House is; maybe a college literary review?  Anyway, if you're interested, call Katie at 778-8162 or Rachel at extension 8637.  Let me know what they say.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Are Not Able to Help You--At All

Oopsy.  Here's a classic case of writing to the wrong person for the wrong thing. I always imagine the rejector must be so relieved in these cases; so easy to wipe it off the desk. (Ms. Lang has a dignified signature, though.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Discuss: Pure Art?


I'm not really blogging today, though I am working on a deadline, which is kind of too bad.  It's a beautiful day out there, and I just got an email with a sneaky p.s.:  This is due Tuesday at 10 a.m.  Anyway, the above strange graffiti is food for thought for your holiday weekend.  I've been amused by recent posts claiming that financial reward is a good rule of thumb for making decisions in one's literary career.  It makes me chuckle.  I have so long ago given up the idea of making money as a short story writer, though I guess not entirely as a novelist (give me a few more weeks: I'm waiting to find out if it's going to get published well or not).  We'll see. Still, I think the only rule should be remaining true to the work. Anyway, I hope you are kicking back and drinking a beer (or a near beer, or a healthy glass of water).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Self's The Thing

Galleycat reports that self-published books are up 132%!  I didn't think anything was up in this economy, except desperation....oh, now I see the link.  I don't mean to throw shade on self-publishing.  I hold it out as a very real option for my own future.  Besides, we are raising an "On Demand" generation, so why not?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake Rejections


Blagent Janet Reid posted this photo a few months ago.  If all my rejections came as cake, I'd sure be fat.  If you follow the link (cakewreck), you find out it's not really a literary rejection at all, but a resignation.  (Agents are always getting my hopes up with misleading information.) To read the actually letter, go here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Genius Is This?

I got to know David Brooks during the recent presidential elections when I was obsessed with news coverage and the election debates.  He wrote this opinion piece in the New  York Times a few weeks ago, which deserves a good read by all of you budding modern geniuses out there. Here's a charming highlight: "If you wanted to picture how a typical genius might develop, you’d take a girl who possessed a slightly above average verbal ability. It wouldn’t have to be a big talent, just enough so that she might gain some sense of distinction. Then you would want her to meet, say, a novelist, who coincidentally shared some similar biographical traits. Maybe the writer was from the same town, had the same ethnic background, or, shared the same birthday — anything to create a sense of affinity....it would also help if one of her parents died when she was 12, infusing her with a profound sense of insecurity and fueling a desperate need for success."  Sound familiar to anyone out there?  

Monday, May 18, 2009

MissouriYouTube Tutorial

Speaking of Speer Morgan at the Missouri Review, there's an entire YouTube series of interviews with him. Many are ho-hum, verging on generic (for example: Finding Stories, Behind the Scenes at MR part I,  Behind the Scenes at MR part II, Missouri Review: The Early Years).  But there's one clip that's pretty apt called (for some reason) The Missouri Review Feature: Knopf Rejections.  Speer does a good job of succinctly identifying the problems with contemporary publishing. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

The More Online Magazines To Reject You With

Narrative Magazine is seeming more and more like a New Yorker wannabe, no?  (Plus I get an email from Narrative every 3 1/2 minutes.) If that's not confusing enough, Esquire now has an online fiction section, a bit reminiscent of the Narrative enterprise, in that your chance of getting published is pretty darn slim. They publish the likes of Stephen King and Don Delillo, but they also have a fiction contest you might like to enter.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

John Fox Makes the Skies Even Friendlier

So, as many of you know, I had a recent death in the family, and this weekend was flying to my hometown take care of some business. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the U.S. Airways Magazine to find our very own foxy John Fox had published an article called "Netflix for Books"! It was an informative way to spend my time in the air. Say what you will, but I like that old BookFox.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ongoing Wiki Saga

Well, the good news is that, after several attempts by fans, followed by several failures to stick, it looks like LROD is finally on Wikipedia to stay.
The bad news is that the description fails to mention how hospitable we ultimately were: (1) we promoted, read, and discussed Darin Strauss' novel and that he did point out in the Village Voice that we were on friendly terms (though the journalist chose not to include that fact); (2) we welcomed and featured Scott Snyder's new short story collection; and (3) we had a fruitful series of discussions with Ted Genoways after VQR readers' comments were made public and Genoways apologized (sort of).

Oh well.  it doesn't matter if we're misunderstood; we still know who we are; right, mice?  At least they mentioned the GAK awards.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Consideration of the Advance


Much has been written about the retreat of the publishing advance.  Add to the mix this fine letter to the editor of the New York Times, published in response to Michael Meyer's essay entitled "About That Advance (also worth reading)."  An excerpt from the letter should give all you toiling writers out there a little lift:
...[M]ost fiction writers -- even those with one or more novels to their credit -- must labor, often for years, sans payment. What's more, in our increasingly doctrinaire publishing climate, even the finest among them labor sans any guarantees of eventual publication or income; one could argue -- and demonstrate persuasively -- that the greater number of literature's real practitioners (those who have not let cynicism and status anxiety eat away their gifts) work under such conditions. Laboring slowly, unhonored and unpaid and bound toward an immaterial prize far more meaningful than ''success'' as New York parlance would have it, these writers have destiny for incentive -- and perhaps the exemplars of bygone literary gods for inspiration. Unsung, they sing, and reap rewards that more than mitigate the annoyances of obscurity. Quietly, faithfully, their late-paid, ill-paid or altogether unpaid works go into the world untrumpeted, unreviewed and unbought, to give the lie to the fallacy denounced by Annie Dillard a quarter-century ago: ''that the novelists of whom we have heard are the novelists we have.''

Friday, May 8, 2009

Polite As A Literary Agent in London

This one is anonymously submitted with all the telling information chopped out.  But I suppose it is a nice little rejection urging you not to be too disheartened.  If there is such a thing.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Home of Southern Tree & Shade


Here's a pretty rejection from Southern Review received and posted over at  A Writing Year.  I love the beautiful expansive foliage shadowed as a backdrop, telling you to find literary shade elsewhere.  Nice touch.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TS Literary Roundup Cartoon Rejection

So many questions.  Is that a dog writing a children's book? Are those upside down smiley faces? Why does a rejection letter need a cartoon? Do you get a ribbon with an image of pen and parchment paper when you are rejected?  Was it Friday the 13th in 1988?  What's a round-up committee? Why didn't they sign the thing?  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flipping Rewarding

It's a little bit of a flashback in time to declare the Death of Publishing from this headliner at Galley Cat.  However, this quotation from the piece is still quite apt, and so worth repeating: "Publishing is a business whose key players try to take advantage of each other," this [Publishing industry] insider claims. "Agents try to take advantage of publishers, publishers try to take advantage of authors, and booksellers try to take advantage of readers by offering them overpriced merchandise, or books that are nothing more than marketing slogans... For many many years publishing has been about egos, advances, slights, agents and hurtful gossip—instead of books... I am so frustrated right now that I think flipping burgers would be more rewarding."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Disturbing and Creepy

The anonymous recipient of this rejection writes: "This is the only rejection I've gotten that I felt was worthy of sending in for your blog. I think it's something about the best wishes always that's disturbing and creepy. On the plus side, I've been so lax about keeping any sort of tracking on my submissions that each rejection is almost like a present or a surprise! "

Friday, May 1, 2009

Offering Hope? Or Despair?

Here's a handwritten publication/rejection record to beat all records, including my own.  The 5 highlighted sections represent this writer's acceptances, including in Jabberwock Review, Ninth Letter, Fugue, and Fourth Genre, twice   among several others. (If you go to the Flickr photo and squint, you can find a few more.)